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The World's Ugliest Dog Contest-What it Takes to be a Winner

Updated on September 11, 2012

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Do you remember the motto, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”? Well, in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest beauty is not an option and ‘ugly’ makes you a winner. Just ask the contestants who come to California each year to compete in this unconventional dog contest.

Location of the World's Ugliest Dog Contest

For the past 22 years the Sonoma-Marin Fair, located in Petaluma, California, has hosted the whacky, but popular dog contest and has received world-wide attention. Partly started as a lark, partly to raise awareness of animal rights, and in particular, the cause of rescue dogs, the annual event has been going strong for over two decades. If you haven’t had the opportunity to view this through Animal Planet, it is a must see.

Held each June, the contest applicants have one general rule: dogs have to pass the inspection of judges in the category of ugly. Only one other important factor prevails: have documentation of updated vaccinations and a clean bill of health.


Chinese Crested Hairless Breed

"Don't hate me because I am beautiful".
"Don't hate me because I am beautiful". | Source

The Winner is Ugly!

What makes the dogs ugly can vary. Former winners have been noted to be blind in one eye, (or both); have long, exposed tongues, which hang out of the sides of their mouths; have snaggled-toothed profiles; a protruding tooth or two; an odd or peculiar walk; and a hairless body.

Many of the contestants fall into a category of the Chinese Crested breed, which can include bug eyes and a tuft of hair at the crown, like a Mohawk. Overall, they have a frightening, ‘gremlin’ look. This breed has dominated the winners circle for many years, but their reign was upset in 2009 when a rogue boxer with a prominent under bite took the title. Pabst, the boxer, walked away with over $1,000 in prize money and accessories.

World's Ugliest Dog Contest Video

Dog Contests offer prizes and fame

Worldwide media coverage, guest speaking, (or barking as it may be), on talk shows, prizes, money, as well as the coveted title, are all reasons that owners take their ugly dogs out of the closet and put them on display for at least one day of the year. What’s not to love about that?

If you have a pedigree or mutt that is uglier than sin on a cold, dark night than take heart, for you too can proudly display your pooch in the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest by following these steps:

1. Open the fair website at: and hit the W.U.D.C. box located on the home page. You’ll know it when you see it.

2. Fill the application out and send it off before the deadline. This year the deadline is June 21, 2011. There is no fee for the application.

3. Take note that you are required, by the rules of the W.U.D.C. committee, to bring your own dog’s pooper scooper and water bowl.

Famed 'Ugly Dog' Winner: Rascal

A few notes now, about winners from the past. Rascal, a Chinese Crested Hairless breed was winner of the World’s Ugliest Dog Contest in 2002. He was so prominent with his ugly characteristics that Jay Leno had him as a guest on the Tonight Show, before he even won the contest. Now, that is some serious ‘ugly’.

Since 2010 Rascal had a total of 10 Ugly Dog Contest titles, including the title for the Oldest, Ugly Dog Contest located in Fort Bragg, California. He was also cast in four horror movies and won the title in 2009 for the Regal Cinemas Hotel for Dogs Ugly Dog Contest in Florida.

Rascal is the offspring of Chi Chi, another hairless Chinese Crested who holds the Guinness Book of World Records for holding more World’s Ugliest Dog titles than any other dog in the history of ugly dog contests.

In 2010 Princess Abby, a Chihuahua, won the title in Petaluma. Missing one eye, back legs longer than the front, which created a funny walk, and two mismatched ears, Princess Abby is now the proud winner of last year’s contest.

Tips for Safe Pet Travel

Remember: if you are planning to travel to Northern California to enter your pet in the contest here are a few pointers to keep in mind.

1. Make travel arrangements early, including accommodations. Petaluma is a beautiful area of California and you will want to ensure a place to stay during this popular festival.

2. If your pet is a lap dog, arrange to have him under your seat instead of in the cargo area.

3. Take note to give the competitor a day to recuperate from travel, if possible.

If you do not have an ‘ugly’ dog and would like to watch the contest you can do so in person, while enjoying many of the other fair activities. The Sonoma-Marin Fair goes from June 22-26.

The activities related to the contest, sponsored by Animal Planet, and the Sonoma County Humane Society, also include a dog fashion show and a dog lover’s festival.

Call 707-283-3247 for more information.

Location of the Sonoma-Marin Fair in Petaluma, California

175 Fairgrounds Drive, Petaluma, Ca, 94952:
Fairgrounds Dr, Petaluma, CA 94952, USA

get directions

The World's Ugliest Dog Contest @ Sonoma-Marin Fair


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    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Steven-thanks for the read and comments.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 

      9 years ago

      To be honest, I rarely ever watch the Animal Planet unless its about the humane society busting abusive owners, or it's the puppy bowl game that takes place during the super bowl. lol. However, this does sound like an interesting show. I'll definitely be sure to take a look at it the first chance I get. Thanks Denise for another interesting hub. :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi V-thanks for reading. The television broadcast was even better. It wss hilarious. We laughed till we cried! Thanks for your comments.

    • viryabo profile image


      9 years ago

      WOW! I didn't realise there are ugly dogs, not to talk about having contests. The video's an eye opener for me.

      One thing though, they do look strangely 'attractive', and its so amazing, but not surprising, how much love their owners must have for them.

      Great article Denise.


    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Manny, how are you! Are you taking the 30/30 challenge this month? I hope so. Thanks for reading and commenting. Hope all is well.

    • mannyrolando profile image


      9 years ago

      great hub Denise and yes, those are some ugly dogs... they are so ugly that they are kind of cute!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I didn't realize you were also in the health care profession. It is quite stressful these days. Thanks for your encouragement.

    • Beth100 profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      Funny, we're both in the healthcare field. lol I hear you about the hasn't encouraged me to try hard to make time to write. :( I believe in you -- I have a good, strong feeling that you will be seeing 100 quite soon again! :)

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Beth-I can relate about your long hours. I work (3) 12 hr shifts per week and it is exhausting! I am constantly being asked to pick up extra shifts, but I refuse. I must have some type of balance in my life.

      I will miss you at the hubchallenge, but thanks for your encouragememt and compliment about my writing. Unfortunately, with all of the changes, I've been feeling a bit smacked around and frustrated.

      I don't know if I'll ever see '100' again. LOL

    • Beth100 profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      Hi Denise! Itès funny that you ask me that -- that is how and why I joined HP so many months ago (over a year you say!!) Ièm sorry about the ÈéÈ things -- my keyboard is in French and English! lol I will not be participating in this hub challenge -- Ièm buried under work and am taking on another shift with another company. I am already working 9 hour shifts and will be adding two 10 hour shifts on the weekends. I will try to join in, but the chances are the I will not. I will, however, read when I have the time.

      Good luck to you, and I know that you will write more fabulous hubs!! When you reach 100 AGAIN on your score, weèll celebrate!!! May your pen (er, keyboard) flow with creative energy!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Hi Credence-thanks for visiting the hub. You are a true dog lover. I love golden retrievers. Thanks for the website. I'll check it out.

      Hi Sofs and Beth--What's not to love, right? Beth, the contest is so entertaining, isn't it? And, you're right about the ability of these folks looking beyond the cutesy part of having a pet. Thanks ladies for reading and commenting.

      Beth-are you doing the hubchallenge?

    • Beth100 profile image


      9 years ago from Canada

      I have watched this contest before, and each of the ugly contestants are big in the heart. :) It also shows how loving their owners are -- to look beyond their pet's looks and accept who they really are. hmm...perhaps some people in the world could learn from this!

      Nice hub Denise! :)

    • sofs profile image


      9 years ago

      Another great hub Denise, poor things, so ugh but easy to love I guess :) they can easily find a way to your heart given a chance, ugly or not :)

    • Credence2 profile image


      9 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

      Denise, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. Me and misses used to raise golden pups when we were in Colorado. The web site that we used is still there for dog lovers. This is the site where the dogs are the stars of the show Thanks for sharing with us.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      OMG I'm sooo excited for you Kath-please do check it out for me and let me know if it is every bit of fun as it appears to be! Thanks for your comment.

    • Chatkath profile image


      9 years ago from California

      Hi Denise! We actually used to have a dog that looked like that - but of course he was a pound puppy dog, not a Chinese hairless :) Thanks to your map, I know where the Fairgrounds are now - After all these years, it is only about an hour away! What a great Hub!

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Husky-thanks for visiting the hub and commenting. I appreciate it.

      Danette--wouldn't it be fun to take a trip out there and see the contest? Drink some wine...visit a b&b...ahhhhh. We'll have to put that on our 'to do' list, sister. LOL

      Always Exploring-thanks for the read. I'm glad you enjoyed the video and I would encourage you to YOUTUBE the contest for some REAL frightening looks, haha.

      AliciaC-thanks for your comments and time to read the hub. I'm glad you enjoyed it. LOL

      Fossil Lady--you are right--it is the Chinese Hairless that mostly wins these contests. I can certainly see why! Thanks for your comment.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Eiddwen. It's true. You've got to love them, they are so dreadfully homely! LOL

    • Eiddwen profile image


      9 years ago from Wales

      What a great hub and thank you so much for sharing.

      These dogs are so ugly that they are almost pretty.

      That's my daughter's motto.

      Take care


    • Fossillady profile image


      9 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      The Chinese Hairless often wins, they look funny with thier little tongues sticking hub

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      9 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thanks for an entertaining and enjoyable hub. Actually, I think the ugly dogs are beautiful, as I'm sure their owners do!

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      9 years ago from Southern Illinois

      I enjoyed the video. The dogs were really ugly, but i bet they were loved. Thoughtful hub. Voted up.

    • Danette Watt profile image

      Danette Watt 

      9 years ago from Illinois

      Yes, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I'll bet those dog owners see nothing but love and beauty in their dogs. Me? Not so sure!

      Great hub, enjoyed the breezy and conversational style it was written in. Voted up.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      An awesome event. Thanks for your info on it. Beauty surely is in the eyes of the beholder.

    • Denise Handlon profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise Handlon 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Genna- I first came across this event through Animal Planet in 2006. OMG I laughed until I cried. The contestants at the time were SO UGLY they were scary, LOL

      Whew--I've talked about the contest ever since and am glad that I had a chance to share it here.

      Unknown comment--thanks for reading and commenting. Don't be so hard on yourself, LOL I hope you saw the video.

      Actually, there were so many videos of the ugly dogs I had a hard time deciding. So, instead of highlighting one dog I chose to do the actual event.

      Please check out the site on YOUTUBE for a better look at these animals. World's Ugliest Dog Contest.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I think I will enter myuself. I do ugly rather well. :-))

      Good stuff this :-)

    • Genna East profile image

      Genna East 

      9 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

      Just stopping by for a few minutes. I had heard about this contest, but initially thought it was a joke; amazing hub, Denise...thank you. :)


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